Budget Beat

The Paisley Violin: Lunch $10 & Under

Ever had one of those days that starts at the crack of dawn and doesn't stop, and then you look up at the clock and it's 2:30 p.m. and you have yet to take your lunch break? It happens to the best of us.

We stopped by The Paisley Violin for one such late-afternoon lunch, because the kitchen stays open through the afternoon slump, the menu doesn't change, and everything (minus the party platter) is less than $10.

We start off with an iced-tea caffeine boost: A black cherry blend brewed fresh by our waitress that morning has a subtle flavor that doesn't overwhelm the tea but is definitely noticeable. The best part was that our tea never got below half full before the staff replenished it.

We quickly scan the menu and are instantaneously overwhelmed.

Is it a salad day? There are half a dozen options. Craving protein on your bed of greens? You can add lamb, chicken, turkey, prosciutto, bacon, roast beef, lox, tuna, or tofu to any salad for $2.50.

Sandwich options range from The Viking, a Norwegian-style lox and cream cheese number, to The Panini Cubano, a Cuban-style prosciutto melt with Swiss, black beans, and chipotle mayo; from the Venice Violin, loaded with Cured Soppressata and pepperoncini, to the La Baba, an Arabic-style pita with babaganouge (or eggplant) and Tzatziki. All are served with your choice of side.

Click through for our order and our thoughts.

We turn to our waitress for some honest advice. The veggie burger is not made in house, so that's out. (We've eaten enough Boca-Garden-Morningstar patties in our day to order one out.) She has a thing against tofu, so while the Asian Tofu sandwich featuring a sweet-and-spicy soy marinade sounds intriguing, we skip it. We order the highly recommended tomato and mozzarella salad and cross our fingers.

This is not the skimpy Caprese salad you might be anticipating: Fresh sliced buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and hefty servings of pesto and cracked pepper arrive atop a generous bed of spinach with an herb-infused sourdough roll. The balsamic-to-oil ratio is spot on. The bread cuts the acidity. We wouldn't change a thing.

We enjoy our salad as we admire the wrought-iron work throughout the place. The wine bottles suspended above the bar are way too cool and direct our attention down to the violin encased on top of the bar. Yes, we said bar. The Paisley Violin also serves coffee and spirits.

As mentioned, the menu doesn't change between lunch and dinner, so realistically it's a better value for the latter. Still, we prefer The Paisley Violin in broad daylight or during a First Friday. Call us paranoid, but we'd rather not leave our car on the street around the corner after sundown.

The Paisley Violin
1030 Grand Ave.

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Hannah E Williams